Film Review – Most Wanted
Most Wanted is a “based on a true story,” revolving around the drug trade in Canada in the late 1980s and early 1990s, and the attempts by the federal police to run stings to stop the flow of drugs into the country. On the heels of these stings is a journalist, Victor Malarek (Josh Hartnett), who writes for a prominent newspaper and also has a side gig of hard-hitting television interviews. Malarek becomes aware of possible illegal actions by the federal police and hits the ground running to investigate how they might have compromised and used a Canadian citizen to do their dirty work.
Most Wanted, written and directed by Daniel Roby, uses two to three timelines throughout the film to show different perspectives on the crucial events, as well as giving background on the characters and the motivations for their actions. One timeline is of the previously mentioned journalist Victor Malarek. The second major timeline revolves around struggling drug addict Daniel Léger (Antoine Olivier Pilon), whose circumstances lead him to fall into a league with Picker (Jim Gaffigan), a wannabe drug smuggler and federal snitch. The third timeline revolves around the federal police, chiefly Frank Cooper (James McHattie), who lost a top post and is now trying to make up for it. These three timelines intersect, but not at the same point in time.
Considering the times we live in right now, Most Wanted is another example of investigative journalists bringing injustices to light. Without people like Malarek (even with this story being fictionalized a bit), these federal police’s illegal activities under the guise of a sting would not have been discovered if not for Malarek. Léger would still be languishing in jail, unaware of what to do in his dire situation.
Aside from some great storytelling and how the film is constructed, Most Wanted benefits from the talents of Josh Hartnett and Jim Gaffigan. While he is known for being a portly comedian, Gaffigan has appeared in several supporting film roles that continue to illustrate that he has some dramatic prowess. He even comes off as a scary, unpredictable individual in Most Wanted, the kind of man so far from what he displays on his comedy specials. Josh Hartnett was seen as a teen idol for a decent portion of my life that I believe that he is not given the roles that he deserves, and when he does, they do not get the attention that they should. Just based on what I saw in three seasons of Penny Dreadful and now another dramatic role in this film, Josh Harnett deserves to be up there in terms of getting the meaty parts that other dramatic actors are offered.
Most Wanted pulls off a surprise that elicited a gasp from me about halfway through the film. It grabs your attention and makes the viewer more invested in how the rest of the story will play out. Like many films releasing digitally in these trying times, it would have benefited from a run in the theatres and word of mouth, but instead is vying for your hard-earned money as you flick through your Friday night options on your Roku. It has an exciting and compelling story, based on a true one, with a couple of standout actor performances. While it may not be the escapism, so many of us need at the end of a rough week, Most Wanted is a finely crafted dramatic film.